Art · Community · Crocheting · Fiberart · Life

How Crochet Makes the World a Better Place

Julie Kornblum, Fiber Artist.  Plastic Earth, 3-D crocheted art from plastic bags

Art in itself makes the world a better place. When times are difficult, nations battle and people are left in the dust, life itself is simply a difficult task; art makes a difference. Art heals; it brings together people in a way few things can by creating an outlet for expression or a nature of participation that otherwise is just not available. Art is in many forms, and as an artist, I love so much of it. I always remind people that the fiber arts are very important, and frequently talents are passed through the generations. The art of crochet, and knitting, can be a wonderful balm to many of the ills in the world. Looking around, it makes me smile to see so many fiber artists participating in making the world a better place. I did a quick Google search to find just a few examples of how fiber art is creating a positive reaction in the world, and I have to admit that I could not write all the examples here because there simply were too many. But please, do enjoy this selection and join with me in appreciating the wonderful work these fiber artists do for the people of the world.

Healing premature infants. In a UK hospital NICU, Crocheted octopi are being created and given to preemies. The toys are a form of therapy used to comfort and calm the infants. Since preemie babies are at risk for severe health issues, with the octopi, some babies have experienced improved breathing and more regular heartbeats. What’s most comforting to the infants about these crocheted octopi are their soft tentacles, which the hospital staff say remind babies of the umbilical cord and their mother’s womb. Babies hugging an octopus are less likely to pull out their monitors and tubes thus maintaining a better road to healthy. If you want to help crochet an octopus you’ll find the pattern here. The address to send the octopus to the UK hospital is located in the article.

Atonement with a hook and yarn. Prison inmates who crochet help the community and themselves. In Wasilla, WA, 450 crocheted blankets were passed out to homeless people. Prison inmates made all of these handmade blankets. Prisoners took up crocheting as part of a Department of Corrections program to help build self-esteem and help various non-profit organizations. Several of the inmates have also crocheted and donated animals (amigurumi) for children with serious illnesses. The inmates feel that donating the items they crochet makes them feel like they are doing something of value to pay their debt to society. Although the crochet program was officially suspended at the WA facility, many of the inmates are continuing the effort on their own. There are plans to officially reopen the program in September 2017.

Students donate recess time to help domestic violence shelter. Students in Illinois have been crocheting scarves during their recess for a domestic violence shelter. First, second and third graders are crocheting scarves for people at the local domestic violence shelter, giving up their own time for crocheting during recess. Some students learned how to crochet just to help others in the group learn. The beginnings of caring at such a young age.

Need a mood lift? Numerous studies have shown that the fiber arts, including crochet, create an uplifting mood Women and men are taking up hooks to crochet to handle daily life stress. Crochet has been shown to improve your fine motor skills and keep your mind active and alert. And a quote from the article I love: “From helping those trying to reduce weight (crochet keeps your mind so occupied that you tend to forget snacking) to even helping those wanting to quit smoking, the art is emerging as the new stress buster.”

A British Colombian woman helps Syrians combat boredom as they wait in Greece. Refugees hooked on crochet: Ms. Karen Kirk wasn’t planning on her crochet skills to do much when she started volunteering in a refugee camp in Greece, but it turned out crochet is hugely popular among Syrian children. Encouraged to make the trip to Greece to help by her 24-year-old daughter, Ms. Kirk decided to just do it. “They sit all day waiting to be called and take the ferry to Athens for their interview … then they come back from Athens after their interview and they sit in the camp and they wait again and days and weeks go by … so I said, ‘OK, what can I do?'” Noticing many of the children in the camp crochet, but do not have the materials because the cost of hooks and yarn is too costly for most of the people living in camp, she herself went into the village and purchased several items for the children. Upon her return to Greece to volunteer again, she had collected over five hundred crochet hooks, two suitcases full of yarn and money from friends to purchase more supplies locally. She continues to volunteer and crochet with them every day.

Science and art do mix. There is a Crochet coral reef exhibition which opened Feb. 10 at the Mary Porter Sesnon Gallery, Crochet Coral Reef: CO2CA-CO2LA Ocean, it is an exhibition by Margaret and Christine Wertheim and the Institute For Figuring, and is an artistic response to the environmental emergency of global warming and the mounting problem of plastic trash amassing in the ocean. Mixing math, marine biology, handcraft, and community art, the exhibition underscores not only the damage humans do to the earth’s environment, but also their power for positive action. Sesnon Gallery Director Shelby Graham stated “When you realize this powerful story is being told through crochet, you’ll want to learn about the math, science, and collaborative art practices behind it all.” I myself would love to be able to see this art display, and I doubt I’d be able to make the trip to Santa Cruz, but hopefully the exhibit will travel closer soon.

Political statement. From the Washington Mall, across the world and on to the model runway, Pussy Hats have made a powerful political statement that isn’t going away soon. If you thought this was just a passing fad accessory from the Women’s March, think again. The hats have made a statement about the current political climate and reflected success of the Women’s March. The sea of pink could be seen around the world and clearly has staying power. According to The Pussy Hat Project, the hats are meant to “provide women’s rights supporters a way to come together in a virtual march to represent themselves, connect, and support women’s rights, whether or not they are physically marching.” The act of craftivism enables all of us to reflect on the broader questions about the very place and power of the art/craft itself, showing that acts of craftivism acknowledges a feminist reclaiming of traditionally feminine skills, although no longer made only by women.

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